China’s CNY binge spending rises at slowest pace in years

A figurine of a pig stands on display ahead of Lunar New Year in Hong Kong, China, on Sunday. (Bloomberg pic)

BEIJING: The downward pressure on China’s consumption persisted over the Lunar New Year holiday, the annual festival when people travel, shop, and give gifts or money.

People in China spent 1.01 trillion yuan (US$149 billion) at restaurants, shopping malls and online outlets over the week-long holiday, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

That was 8.5% higher than during last year’s festive period, but the slowest increase since at least 2011.

The slowdown in spending underscores the weakness in Chinese consumption, which saw last year’s rise as the lowest since 2002.

Weaker growth, the trade war with the US and a crackdown on debt have all undercut demand, with auto purchases falling for the first time in almost three decades in 2018.

Spending at tourist venues rose 8.2% to 513.9 billion yuan, the state broadcaster CCTV said, citing data from the Ministry of Commerce, slower than the 12.6% rise last year.

Domestic box office revenue was 1% higher than in 2018, according to a report in The Paper, which cited statistics from a cinema ticketing service platform of Alibaba Pictures.

The week-long Lunar New Year falls on different dates in January or February each year.

During the holiday, hundreds of millions travel to their hometowns or go overseas, visit relatives and dine out.

This year’s holiday was Feb 4-10, while it was Feb 15-21 in 2018.